Dennis Pavao

Thursday, January 17, 2002

Dear Dennis,

Previous entry: Class of 1969, Pahoa School: W, 01/16/02

I learned that you are in a post-surgery coma, so I write this from my heart to yours, from one spirit to another.

I remember seeing you for the first time. You and your cousin, Trudy, joined our class when Kalapana School, a school with one class of students ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade and one teacher, Mrs. Sharp -- who also served as principal -- was closed.  In comparison, our class with 26 students must have seemed huge to you.  

You and Trudy fit in right away and became one of "us." You were both shy -- on the quiet side --  and oh, so well-behaved. This just popped into my mind's eye:  

You, Dennis, in your favorite red and white Aloha shirt, with your toothy, disarming smile, waving to me from the blue school bus that took you home down that curvy road to Kalapana

>> Click here for an audio clip of you singing, "Holei,"
 a song dedicated to your home village, Kalapana, 
courtesy of

The world famous "Black Sand Beach" at Kalapana,
that we knew as Kaimű

>> Click here for a stroll down memory lane, 
down Kalapana way, the way it was... 
the way we'll forever remember it. 

We watched each other grow into adolescence.  I'm chuckling as I remember the kolohe guys in our class. They'd embarass us blossoming girls by running their hands down our backs to snap our newest acquisitions, our bras. Of course, you never did that. You were a gentleman, as were your brothers, Lenneth, Edwin Jr., and Morris.  Even as boys.  

Your beautiful Hawaiian Mama and brawny Portuguese Daddy raised you with solid Hawaiian values. These two Hawaiian proverbs come to mind, when I think of you:

E noho iho i ke opu weuweu, mai ho`oki`eki`e.
Remain among the clumps of grass 
and do not elevate yourself.

It means: 
Don't show off. 

Don't get puffed up and big-headed. 

Be ha`aha`a (humble), 
which does not mean 
to be timid, submissive, and spineless,
but have an inner self-confidence, 
which gives rise to quiet strength, 
which is far more admirable 
than self-importance, arrogance, and egotism.


Nana ka maka; 
ho`olohe ka pepeiao;
pa`a ka waha.

Observe with the eyes;
listen with the ears; 
shut the mouth.

It means: 
This is how one truly learns. 

We had lots of spirit.  In 7th grade, we gathered around transistor radios, listening to the World Series. I don't remember which team you or I rooted for.  The Yankees?  The Dodgers? This, I do know, we always rooted for the same team, the Pahoa School Daggers. Our school spirit was huge, as was our class spirit.  

Remember how hard we worked on harmonizing "Singing Bamboo" under Mr. Isbell's direction? Placing in the song competition in Hilo was one of our most triumphant, joyous moments. Many years later, in 1997, you put a smile on every one of our faces when you  included "our song" on your "Sweet Leilani" album.You preserved a cherished memory of that special time for all of us. And I'm not the only one who accompanies you whenever we play your CD.  Mahalo!

>> Click here for an audio clip 
of you singing, "Singing Bamboo,"
courtesy of

And then there were the May Day and Christmas pageants, when we'd practice as a class for weeks on end, working on taming our left feet and sometimes holding on to each other's hands for dear life. Later, in our joint boy-girl PE dance lessons in the Pahoa School gym, we held hands again as we learned to square and ballroom dance. 

I remember well dancing with you. You had rhythm.  And you never once stepped on my feet.  Thanks for that.  You also did a mean twist and your monkey and continental walk weren't bad either. The 60's.  Ahh, those were the days.

>> Click here for an audio clip of you singing,
"Could I Have This Dance,"
courtesy of

As kids, we experienced the good times and the not-so-good times together: Norman K lost his father, while Calvin H, we knew, had lost his when he was only four; Arsenio's house burned down; lava flows wiped out Kapoho village and Warm Springs; we saw the disastrous effects of the tsunami that swept through Hilo, as well as Hurricane Dot's strong winds and huge, pounding waves to our Puna coastline; and we lost George Luis and Hayward "Kimo" Peleiholani to the Viet Nam war. We shared the pain and losses.

We always rallied.  We had lots of spirit.  Supportive spirit.

We also shared one of the scariest moments in history together: In 1963, President Kennedy was shot and his life hung in the balance. We were 7th graders and we shared that time and space in Mrs. Ho's English class. Together, we prayed for our president, his wife, and his young children, Caroline and little John-John.  

This is a scary time for your family. Leialoha, your wife, is young. Your kids are still keiki.  I pray for all of you,  Those kids need their daddy. God bless their Daddy Dennis.

"God bless my Daddy,
who is over there.
Said a tiny little boy
 in his tiny little prayer.

That is my Daddy,
so please take care.
Said a tiny little boy
in his tiny little prayer."

>> Click here for an audio clip of you singing
"God Bless My Daddy" with your cousins,
courtesy of

Dennis, I am in the dark as to your condition.  Was the stroke mild? Or serious enough to incapacitate you?  Not knowing, I place you in God's Hands and in His Grace.  You are "over there," and like that tiny little boy, I pray for you.

Also, know that I am rooting for you all the way.  Remember, we've got spirit.  

How much?



"Life is a Gift."

With Aloha, your friend and classmate, 
Author Unknown

 "The only gift is a portion of thyself..."
Ralph Waldo Emerson


September Morn © 2002